Every year on the 17th of May, IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia). This day not only honors the LGBTQIA+ community worldwide, but also raises awareness about the ongoing violence and discrimination they face daily. LGBTQIA+ individuals often endure disproportionate levels of discrimination, violence, mental health issues, bullying, and even homelessness.

But you know what? Enough is enough. Genuine inclusion is everyone's responsibility. So, we're here to provide you with a crash course on leaving judgments behind (throw them in the bin really), using inclusive language, and practicing basic courtesies towards our LGBQTIA+ friends. 

First up: Pronouns.

Pronouns are words that can be used to refer to a person, other than their name. Using the correct pronouns can help to make people feel heard, understood, and respected.

  • They, She, and He are all common pronouns. They, Xe, and Ey are a few common gender-neutral pronouns.
  • She and He are gendered pronouns. She is typically used by female-identifying people. Similarly, He is typically used by male-identifying people.
  • They, them, theirs are common gender-neutral pronouns and are typically used by gender-diverse and non-binary-identifying people. They don’t imply ‘male’ or ‘female’.

There are lots of other gender-neutral pronouns too. They can take a bit of getting used to, but it’s important to use the right ones. If you’re not sure, politely ask the person. To hear firsthand why these matter, watch this video or check out Minus18’s very helpful language guide!

Next? Gender inclusivity in the workplace  

LGBTQIA+ people are twice as likely to be victims of workplaces compared to their none LGBTQIA+ colleagues. Let that sink in… What can you do to change this?

Don't make assumptions about a person's sexual orientation

Gender identity is different to sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is about who we're attracted to, whereas gender identity is about our own personal sense of being a man or a woman, or neither of those binary genders. 

If you don't know what pronouns to use, listen first

If you're unsure which pronoun a person uses, you can politely ask, or introduce yourself using yours. If you do ask which pronoun the person uses, start with your own. For example, "Hi, I'm Taylah, and I use she/her pronouns. What about you?" Then use that person's pronoun and encourage others to do so. 

If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun, apologise (sincerely) then move on. If you continue to use the incorrect pronoun or name, that is considered misgendering and is a harmful form of bullying.

Be careful about confidentiality, disclosure, and "outing"

Some people feel comfortable disclosing their gender history, and some do not. A person's gender history or sexual preferences are personal information and it is up to them to share it, not yours. Don’t casually share this information, speculate, or gossip about a person. It’s an invasion of their privacy, and it can have devastating consequences on their psychological and physical safety. 

Respect the terminology a person uses to describe their identity

People use many different terms to describe their experiences. Respect the term (transgender, transsexual, non-binary, genderqueer etc.) a person uses to describe themselves. If a person is not sure of which identity label fits them best, give them the time to figure it out for themselves, and don't tell them which term you think they should use.

Be patient with a person who is questioning or exploring their gender identity

A person who is questioning or exploring their gender identity may take some time to figure out what's true for them. They might, for example, use a name or pronoun, and then decide at a later time to change the name or pronoun again. Do your best to be respectful and use the name and pronoun requested. 

There is no "right" or "wrong" way to transition - it is different for every person. Respect it.

Some transgender people access medical care like HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and surgery and some want their authentic gender identity to be recognized without hormones or surgery. Some are excluded from the personal choice due to a lack of financial resources or access to healthcare. A transgender person's identity is not dependent on any of these factors. If someone shares with you that they are transgender – accept it, respect it, and move on.

Support all-gender public restrooms

Some people may not feel like they match the signs on the restroom door. Encourage your school, workplace, and local shops to have single-user, unisex and/or all-gender restroom options. Make it clear that transgender and gender non-conforming people are welcome to use whichever restroom they feel comfortable using.

At meetings and events, set an inclusive tone

In group settings, identify people by articles of clothing instead of using gendered language. For example, the "person in the blue shirt," instead of the "woman in the front”. Encourage people to introduce themselves with their names and pronouns. For example, "Hi, I'm Tyler and I use they/them pronouns." If you feel like this could cause the effect of singling out people in the room or put them on the spot, perhaps just encourage people to simply just use their preferred names.

Using pronouns on email signatures

Adding your preferred pronouns beside your name or alongside your contact details on an email signature is an easy way of showing the pronouns you prefer to use. But it goes deeper than that - it normalises discussions around gender. It’s also a great way to show that as an employer/workplace, you value the individuals in your workplace and can help avoid accidental misgendering.

Here at Youth Projects, we believe IDAHOBIT is an opportunity to celebrate the enormous contributions our LGBTQIA+ community makes to broader society. To educate and inform people on being better allies. And above all, throwing the “You and I” conversations out the window so it becomes a genuine “us” conversation.